The impact of hand osteoarthritis on the handwriting of elderly people : a clinical trial of assistive technology
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Citation:Dyer, J. (2015). The impact of hand osteoarthritis on the handwriting of elderly people : a clinical trial of assistive technology. An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Practice, Unitec Institute of Technology.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/3310
In New Zealand osteoarthritis affects seven percent of the population and most commonly affects hands. People with hand osteoarthritis report that decreased hand function affects the speed and legibility of their handwriting, thus there is the potential for assistive technology to be applied in this setting. The hypothesis of this research was that a new, prototype pen may improve comfort when writing and that script legibility may also be improved or at least not diminish. This new pen was compared for efficacy with a pen developed commercially for people with hand osteoarthritis and with participants’ usual pens. Handwriting samples from 36 participants were evaluated where participants used either the prototype pen or the commercial pen and their usual pen. The research also included semi-structured interviews on the impact of living with arthritis. Over 78% of participants reported that handwriting was difficult for them, and more than 81% wrote daily and rated handwriting as essential: handwriting was described as a means of maintaining independence and social relationships. The mean writing speed was slower using the prototype pen than the usual or commercially available pen. There was no difference in writing legibility when using any of the pens; however, the commercially available pen was rated as better than the participant’s usual pen for comfort. Customised pens may enable older people with hand osteoarthritis to maintain legible handwriting ensuring continued participation in their communities.